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UTA uses Innovation Day to get young innovators to think about creating businesses

InnovationDay@UTA 2015


The University of Texas at Arlington challenged inventors to develop new ideas that can be taken to the marketplace during the second annual Innovation Day held Thursday, Oct. 22, at College Park Center.

The event featured a student innovation competition for high school and college teams, a technology showcase, faculty and student poster presentations and sessions with guest panelists discussing innovation, entrepreneurship and how to attract angel investors.

Eighteen teams participated in the student innovation challenge to build a vehicle for less than $50 that could climb obstacles and travel 25 feet without using fuel or batteries.

The winning high school team, led by 14-year-old Samantha Maldonado, represented Arlington Martin High School’s STEM Academy, an initiative developed jointly by UTA with Arlington Independent School District, to help students meet STEM college requirements before graduation.

First-year UTA students Chandon Lim and Chun Lau won the college-level team competition.

Winners took home iPad minis.

Gloria Maceiko, competition judge, UTA alumna and serial entrepreneur, said in a Fort Worth Business article that university and high school students need to know they can actually convert their idea into a company.

“When I was listening to these presentations today I was thinking that the students could be presenting their ideas to venture capitalists in Silicon Valley,” Maceiko said.

Maceiko is helping UTA establish a strategic outpost in California’s Silicon Valley with a mission of matching UTA technology with investors and corporate partners.

Maceiko’s efforts are among many UTA programs that teach technology commercialization and entrepreneurship.

Earlier this year, the university launched The StartUp Lounge as a meeting place where ideas may begin the journey toward becoming inventions, products or processes. The StartUp Lounge used Innovation Day to introduce more than 100 faculty, staff and student entrepreneurs to funding sources. The StartUp Lounge also presented ways to grow fledgling companies and offered opportunities for conducting research that will advance their technologies toward market readiness.

The UTA Research Institute also is working to accelerate the university’s ability to innovate and move technologies to market. One highlight of UTARI’s innovations presented at Innovation Day was the ReHEAL glove, a pliable glove that delivers medicines to patients recovering from hand injuries. UTARI also is working on a smart controller for real-time decision-making and a new optics system to concentrate sunlight for more efficient energy use from solar panels.

The university also has created the Fab Lab, a state of the art fabrication laboratory featuring cutting-edge technology for research in digital fabrication and data realization. Students, faculty, staff and community members have access to nine 3-D printers, a laser cutter, vinyl cutter, 3-D scanners and digital media software and hardware in a robust learning laboratory.

Some of that innovation is already happening at the student level.

One recent student innovation is PixeltoApp, a computer program to automatically create a working app from an artist’s concepts, which may soon enter the marketplace. Another innovation is Claimbuster, a tool that scores the veracity of statements. It was tested during recent presidential debates.

Fadi Bishara, UTA alumnus and keynote speaker, emphasized the role that UTA has played in his career as an innovator and entrepreneur.

“What I’m doing now is going out and teaching to the rest of the world how things are done in Silicon Valley,” Bishara said. “But everything I’ve done, it all started here. I learned English here and learned how to learn here.” 

About The University of Texas at Arlington

The University of Texas at Arlington is a comprehensive research institution of more than 51,000 students in campus-based and online degree programs and is the second-largest institution in The University of Texas System.  The Chronicle of Higher Education ranked UTA as one of the 20 fastest-growing public research universities in the nation in 2014. U.S. News & World Report ranks UTA fifth in the nation for undergraduate diversity. The University is a Hispanic-Serving Institution and is ranked as a “Best for Vets” college by Military Times magazine. Visit to learn more, and find UTA rankings and recognition at